Friday, August 28, 2009

A Child That Makes You Go, "Hmmm."

I have certain expectations from my children- having nurtured them for the first 5 years of life I believe it is perfectly acceptable, if not their responsibility, for them to be nervous when leaving home on their own for the first time. Especially if their only prior regular time away from me was a 1 hour twice a week preschool.

A few days before school started I realized that Joseph was probably a little frightened about attending kindergarten. (It didn't help that I accidentally mixed up the timing of the "Meet the Teacher" Day and arrived as everyone was leaving, so we never entered the building and he had never seen his teacher.) I asked him if he would like me to drive him the first day, wisely, I felt, emphasizing it would be a one time deal so he wouldn't come to expect it all the time. He told me in no uncertain terms that he was riding the bus and never wanted me to drive him. EVER.

Still, I knew that he must have some trepidation ... leaving home for the first time ... riding to school without any idea what to expect ... surrounded by complete strangers. So the next day I asked if he wanted me to follow behind the bus, to make sure he got to the right class. The thought of him exiting the bus so small and alone made my heart ache, while the "my mother is such a dork" look he shot me made my head ache. (Seriously, he should have to be at least 13 before he perfects that look. That's the 5th child for you.)

So the first day of school unfolded. I dispatched the first shift to ride the bus to middle school

and then, later, the second group to the elementary school.

A very long 4 hours later we headed outside to wait for the afternoon kindergarten bus. Actually I headed outside, Joseph and Matthew had been out there with Peter for a couple hours already. Being the first day, the bus was running late. So we waited, and waited, and waited. About 5 minutes into the wait Joseph turns to look at Peter and I, informing us that we can go inside, he's got this covered. Seriously? I'm sure he is just trying to cover for tummy butterflies, but he did sound pretty nonchalant. Not to mention, he rolled his eyes at us when we told him we preferred to wait.

Finally the bus turned the corner. Joseph stood up and calmly brushed the dust off himself. He waited for the doors to open as if it were an old routine, then he climbed inside and found a seat. Not a nervous twitch, a jittery tremble, or even subconscious tick. Peter and I waved as the bus pulled away from the curb, but Joseph didn't see. He didn't look back. Not even once.

*I apolgize for the quality of the photos. While my real camera is in the shop I am stuck with my first digital camera. All 4 megapixels of it. I did remember to eliminate the bus number from the side of the bus, though.*

Monday, August 17, 2009

Speaking of Random

I am blogging tonight for a reason. It isn't to preserve my family history, tell a funny story, vent a difficult day, or philosophize about motherhood. It is to avoid folding laundry. Because really, I rather like huge piles of laundry sitting in the middle of my bedroom floor. If anyone sees them I can claim "abstract art sculpture." I mean folded in the drawer is only the temporary step between pile on my bedroom floor and pile on the kids' bedroom floor and I am all about cutting out the middle man.

Speaking of middle men, my middle son (Ethan) cleared the table, washed the cupboards, and cleaned up the front and living room yesterday for no reason at all. Without being asked. Seriously it was the sweetest thing ever. Today he was in time out for slapping his little brother on the back, but, hey, nobody's perfect.

Speaking of perfection, have I mentioned before how much I enjoy living on the beach? Today was rather hot and after finishing cleaning up the kitchen (every pot and pan I owned may have been dirty) I let the kids go cool off in the water while I sat in the shade of my backyard and read a book. It was lovely and refreshing. I wonder what we are going to do when our house in North Carolina finally sells and we no longer have to rent and so must leave this house for one we own.

Speaking of North Carolina, someone did a pre-offer inspection on the house today. Keep your fingers crossed that they will decide to put down a real life offer! Two years is a long time to wait for your house to sell.

Speaking of 2 years, when my two year old turns 3 next month I am going to begin potty training. Every time I change his diaper I remind him that his birthday signifies the end of diapers and the beginning of underwear. Now he randomly shouts out that he is about to be a big boy and pee in the toilet and wear underwear. This can get awkward in public.

Speaking of underwear, if I don't tackle that laundry tonight, the kids will be forced to claw through it tomorrow in search of their underwear and I might as well transfer the clean laundry directly into the dirty laundry pile. So good night.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Missing Hairbrushes, Ill-timed Cookies, and a Crazy Woman

My children are always wandering off with my hairbrush. Today I finished my makeup and pulled my hair out of a pony so I could attempt to tame it before book club. Finding all hairbrushes vanquished from my bathroom, I curled and sprayed my bangs and went downstairs in search of one. I seriously have at least 50 hairbrushes hiding in my house by now. Perhaps they're hanging out somewhere with all my pens, socks, and spoons?

Once downstairs I saw my cookie recipe book sitting on the table and realized my intended cookies for book club would only become a reality if I started them right away. Skimming the recipe chosen earlier in the week, the one I had already bought all the supplies for, I realized that it required 2 hours chilling time, which was approximately 3 hours longer than I had available. Thinking it would have something quick in it, I pulled out a Jello and Pudding recipe book and started looking. Of course, I didn't have any pudding in the house so I grabbed my keys and ran to the store.

As I circled the store I tried to convince myself that buying a candy bar would be alright since I missed lunch (while simultaneously trying to convince myself that the plate of macaroni and cheese I ate didn't actually count as lunch). Somewhere between the peppermint extract and Cool Whip isle I was stopped short when a deeper thought worked its way through: I had never found the hairbrush I went downstairs to find.

For several minutes I'd wandered the grocery store (the one nearest my house instead of my regular one, so I really was wandering quite lost looking) with my poor unruly hair completely untamed. I may or may not have been muttering under my breath about the store's layout and poor signage. I may or may not have stopped and stared at the candy isle longer than an adult woman should. I may or may not have started break dancing in the middle of the isle (okay, that one is a NOT, but did you enjoy the mental picture?) I may or may not be the local crazy woman, I'll leave it up to you to decide.

Monday, August 10, 2009

It had its Ups, it had its Downs, it had its Corkscrews: 6 Flags

I almost felt like I was attending a confessional as I stood in line for the roller coaster. "Forgive me, it has been 14 years since my last ride." My last time I was 18. It was (at the time) the longest drop in a roller coaster and could be found in Nevada, where friends and I visited to attend our friend's missionary farewell. At the time I was unaware that it was also my roller coasting farewell. I had recently started dating my husband and the next several summers I would be too broke, pregnant, or busy (often all 3) to go to an amusement park.

A couple weeks ago our friends invited us to 6 Flags. When I called Peter to ask if he'd like to go, he dropped what he was doing to pick up discount tickets offered to the hospital staff. (Don't worry, it was office work he dropped, not a patient.) He called to tell me the price was $26/ticket. I was much relieved that he would get a discount from such a ridiculous price, until he informed me that WAS the discounted price. My cheapness, however, was overcome by the guilt of not attended an amusement park for so long. Unfortunately, that evening, after coming home from out latest misadventure, Peter found that the night shift doctor had called in sick. Guess who filled the shift? Guess who wasn't going to waste the $200 of tickets we just bought?

Despite the under 2 hours of sleep on Peter's part, we were able to have a great time (red bull and an IV of diet coke helped). My youngest rode every ride available to him without breaking a sweat. He didn't even break into a adrenaline boosted frightened face. I mean isn't that why I payed the big bucks, to watch my kids be terrified? The other kids were a little more cautious (although Ryan rode the biggest, baddest roller coaster with his dad).

After much goading (at least my oldest allowed me some parental pleasure) Elise agreed to ride a roller coaster with my friend and me- and Ryan, who was an expert rider after riding with his dad and wanted to ride as many of the scary coasters as possible. We wanted to ride the biggest one, but didn't want to wait 2.5 hours in line, so settled for 2nd best. It was great! After Elise worried all through the line, all through the loading and strapping, and all through the initial slow ride upward, she laughed hysterically the rest of the way through. We've cured her of her fear of amusement park rides. I was also greatly relieved to end my roller coaster dry streak.

We had a blast. I didn't even throw a tantrum at the price of the food we bought. I did make the 8 of us split 4 combo meals, though, so I felt a little better. It was a lot of fun to attend with friends so there were more adults to watch the kids and still an option for adult conversation while waiting in the long lines. I think we have a new summer tradition. Next year Ethan will be tall enough to ride the big coasters and I'm hoping Matthew grows up enough to know he should be scared of large drops and heights while Elise and Ryan grow up enough to remember they shouldn't.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Could I Possibly be Enjoying my Summer? Shhh, It's a Secret

You want to know a secret? I'm reluctant to tell, as it will probably damage my street credz (even more than using the term "street credz" does), but I can't hold it in any longer, I am bursting to confess: I am enjoying my summer with my children.

There, I said it. I will take whatever punishment deemed worthy by my peers. I know, I know. I'm supposed to be counting down the days till school starts. I'm supposed to be locking myself in the bathroom or desperately hunting for any last minute openings in day long camps. But I am not; I am enjoying (almost) every moment.

We didn't go on any vacations, no overnights in hotels, but we have attended the zoo, museums, forts, amusement parks (post still to come, I promise), fire works, bowling, free movies, parks, libraries, friends' houses, & swimming pool. We've braved injuries, hunted bathrooms, and survived broken appliances.

More importantly, we've cuddled on the couch with a book (cuddle may not be the right word for 4 children trying to see the pictures). We've gone on the beach almost every day. We've sang silly songs, explored our backyard, and tried to make ourselves crack up with ridiculous jokes. Summer has filled with the magic of these things, I can feel it permeating our days, forming marvelous out of ordinary.

If you ask me later, I will tell you the kids are driving me crazy. I can't wait to have more peace in my day and reorganize my summer-disastered house. And I won't be lying. I do desperately need a day to myself. Besides, I know the proper way to talk about being a mother of young children, I will not fail. These things are also true, and it is the face often put before the world.

But the magical part- the kisses on my cheek, heart stealing smiles, discreet looks to see if I'm watching performances of feats, contended sighs and exhausted relaxation- I treasure. And, being so precious, I often keep them for myself, to ponder in my heart alone. Throwing out to the public the lesser parts- the stress, craziness, bickering, exhaustion, worry, insanity. I feel no need to describe to my friends the magic of motherhood: it is mine to keep, as I assume it is theirs.

I wonder if there are people who somehow misunderstand motherhood. Do they only see the surface complaints, not understanding the depths underneath? In keeping it unstated, I wonder if it somehow remains hidden to some. I hope not. It just isn't always easily spoken, these memories gathered moment by moment. They mostly remain unconfessed, stored in a mother's heart. If you listen carefully you can often hear it in the undercurrent when mothers converse.

Not all summers have been as wonderful as this one. Every year I look forward its ending with varying degrees of anticipation, dependant on various factors. But this summer has happened to contain more enchantment than usual. I am enjoying my summer with my children.

If you tell anyone, I'll break your pinkie toes.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Three Strikes Your Out, or How Our Freezer Died

*WARNING: this post is not for the weak stomached, easily grossed out, germophobic, or those prone to nightmares. Proceed with caution and DO NOT ATTEMPT TO READ WHILE EATING. Don't say I didn't warn you!*
Today was our garbage day. Normally a day we celebrate by either running to the curb in bare feet and pajamas, racing against an approaching garbage truck or by a sinking realization halfway through the day, calculating how we will fit another weeks worth of garbage into an overflowing bin. But not this week. This week we looked forward to Garbage Day, counting down the days, giddy with anticipation. Garbage Day Eve we put out our bin, too excited to wait any longer. You see, last week our freezer broke.

It all started a couple weeks ago. One of the children left the door ajar a couple inches. Not far, just enough to thaw the door items, ruin the popsicles, and leave the other items slightly under frozen. Remember how we bought half a cow? We still had 1/4 of the meat left and I decided its cost was worth the risk; I shut the door so everything would freeze completely and continued on my way.

A week later I opened the garage door to a strange odor, strong enough to add "clean the garage" to my to-do list. By the next day the smell was strong enough to move "clean the garage" to a high priority. The next morning I wanted to plug my nose with cement. My nose bandanna covered to counter the smell, I went to work emptying the garage. When it was emptied, the smell persisted and was especially strong near the freezer. Turns out some of the meat had thawed enough for juice to get into the defrost tray, going rancid during the week. I cleaned it out with bleach and vowed to not let the kids near the freezer unsupervised. I told Peter we might need to look into getting a new freezer (ours was 10 years old, we bought it from a friend when they moved and it was not only slowly dying, it was getting harder to get a tight seal on the door). Peter thought I was overreacting.

Another week passed and entering the garage, I found the freezer door wide open. Everything in it was cold, but completely thawed. I could handle it once, but twice? No. The meat was unsalvageable. Grumbling, I shut the door, intending to throw everything out just before garbage day (and making Peter "We Don't Need a New Freezer" help). Out of site out of mind.

On his way out the door a few days later, Peter noticed a puddle of reddish juice by the freezer door. I rolled my eyes, told him the door must have been opened again, and moved "clean out freezer" higher on my priority list. It was when I went to clean up the mess that I realized something had gone terribly wrong: the freezer wasn't running. There was more than thawed meat inside, it was rotting meat. I hadn't really checked the freezer since deciding to throw out the contents. There was no telling how long the freezer had sat dead, it had to have been at least a few hot, summer days. There were maggots. I did NOT open the freezer door. In fact, I shut the garage door and determined that this problem was going to wait till I had backup. Backup that had opposed my new freezer idea a couple weeks before.

I will spare you the gory details. There were double layered heavy duty garbage bags, bleach filled spray bottles, a vow of vegetarianism (that lasted a whole 2 days), and a smell strong enough to gag both a mother of 6 and an emergency room doctor. You really don't need to know more. Except Peter did most of the work without even calling me for help.

Today the garbage man came and picked up our garbage (an automated system, so he didn't suffer). I sprayed down the empty garbage bin with water and bleach. Also, this morning the delivery man delivered our new freezer and carted away the old one (Peter had cleaned it well so it wasn't gross anymore- unless the picture of what it looked like before had been seared into your brain). Tomorrow I will both restock and move things out of our indoor freezer's now over-crowded half of the side-by-side combo. The best part? Our new, larger freezer has a high temperature alarm, a door ajar alarm, and a built in LOCK. Peter knows how to apologize in style.